Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #10 – The joy of receiving

I’ve always loved receiving gifts, but I’ve noticed over the last few years that the enjoyment has worn off. I loved the thrill of being surprised with something I really wanted, but, as I got older, I found that people seemed to miss the mark. I slowly, and somewhat cynically, lowered my expectations.

Just this week, I suddenly realized why.

I had lost the art of wanting, and so had lost the joy of receiving. It is dizzying to think of the speed at which I purchased things to meet my every whim. Before anyone had time to think to buy something for me, I had already bought it for myself.CJ3JXUcWoAAZIaE

This year has been different. At first I noticed it slowly: the joy of a beautiful candle as a housewarming gift; two friends who bought me a necklace because they knew I wouldn’t buy it myself. But then, on Friday night, it all hit home with sparkling clarity.

I was out for dinner and got a text from mum saying they’d bought me something. I dropped past their house on the way home.

They’d bought me Harper Lee’s ‘new’ book, Go set a Watchman. I was thrilled, and touched and blessed. And suddenly it hit me. If it weren’t for my resolution this year, I would have pre-ordered the book before it even hit the shelves. In holding back, and depriving myself, I’m creating room for others to bless me. And I’m rediscovering the joy of receiving.

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Remembering that your one wish has been granted

wishThere seems to be something in our human nature that drives us to always want more.

I’m an Australian. I have a job and a house and a bank account. Already I’m far wealthier than about 95% of the world’s population. You’d think I wouldn’t find anything else to want. And yet, as you could easily predict I find myself daily wanting things I don’t have.

Have you ever thought about what you’d ask for if you could have one wish? Anything? As big or crazy or costly as you want? What would you ask for?

I’ve often been struck by King David’s words in Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

If David, with all his wealth and power could have ONE thing, it would be to dwell in the presence of God all the days of his life.

It sounds like a pretty good one thing. In fact, if I didn’t already have it, signed, sealed and delivered, I’d probably be keen to ask for that too!

And there is the problem and the solution all in one. I have been given the greatest, most amazing, all surpassing gift that could ever possibly exist within this universe, and somehow I take it for granted and I pursue lesser things.

I have the one thing that David wanted. Maybe that needs to be enough.

I luv ya, but I don’t love you.

Valentine-Bokeh-Heart-Shaped-Light-Background_thumbThe English language has one word for love. And let’s face it, it’s a bit of a problem.

How do you express that deep feeling of loyalty and affection towards someone who you do not feel romantic love for?

Why is it that you can laugh and say ‘I love you’ to a casual friend, but you have to wait for weeks, or even months to say it to someone who you truly do love?

Us Aussies have come up with a solution. It’s a poor one at best, but it get’s the job done. We preserve the beauty of the phrase ‘I love you’ for more special occasions or instances in which it won’t be misinterpreted. I love you is for family or lovers or close friends. For everyone else, the you tends to slide into a ‘ya.’

‘Ya’ has a powerful impact on the phrase. It makes it acceptable. It expresses appreciation and affection, with out the weight of confession. To add the abbreviated word ‘luv’ allows us to shelter behind the missing letter. Love? Now that’s a strong word, but luv? Yeah, I can do that.

So to everyone out there: I luv ya… but let’s just leave it at that.

Google as my Crystal Ball

I hope the idea of Google as a crystal ball seems absurd to you. It does to me too, but sometimes, I’m afraid, my actions tell differently.

We live in a world engorged with information. Decades ago, if we were driving home and thought of something we wanted to find out, we’d think, ‘I’ll have to get down to the library sometime this week and look that up.’ Now we try to stop ourselves from googling while driving.

We have become so accustomPicture2ed to having information at our fingertips, that the concept that something may be unknowable is virtually inconceivable.

Quantities of information beyond our comprehension have become a cheap commodity; an expectation. Google has become our all-knowing god; our source of all truth. I fear that far too often we forget that it has limitations. For example, it cannot tell the future.

I’m ashamed to admit it (though I suspect I’m not alone) that I have, on occasion, asked (or been tempted to ask) the Google-god things that it cannot know. ‘What should I do in this situation?’ ‘Am I going to get married?’ ‘Will that student ever mature into a decent human being?’

We humans have become inflated with information to the point that we tend to believe there is nothing we (or Google) cannot know. Remember this human: Our knowledge is but a drop in the ocean. And the future is, as it always has been, in the mind and hand of the Almighty alone.